Archive: January 20th, 2011

Mike Pelfrey Named Mets Opening Day Starter

As reported by ESPN-NY’s Adam Rubin, manager Terry Collins announced that Mike Pelfrey would be the Mets’ Opening Day starting pitcher.

I wouldn’t term the decision shocking, but it is certainly unusual. I can’t think of another team that publicly announced their Opening Day starter more than three weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

I suppose the announcement was made to boost Big Pelf’s sometimes fragile confidence. By being named the #1 so early, he is “the man” and can prepare himself as such. What does that mean? It means he won’t worry so much about his performance and stats during spring training. Instead, he’ll focus on getting himself into great shape and on working on his secondary pitches — which could still use a bit of polish.

Looking back to last spring, Pelfrey’s numbers in exhibition games were awful; he had an ERA in the 8s and we discussed here whether we should be concerned. My take was that he was “working on things”, and in the end, thank goodness he did, because the result was Pelfrey finally mixing in off-speed pitches on a consistent basis. If he spends another spring training further “experimenting” and getting used to throwing his change-up, it can only help.

But, the pessimistic side of me has two concerns about this decision to make him the #1 starter. First, I hope it doesn’t jinx him; can’t you just imagine something freakish happening in spring training to prevent Pelfrey from beginning the season? Sorry, as a Mets fan I always assume I’m walking on thin ice. Second, I’m a little concerned about Pelfrey regularly going up against the #1 starters of every other team. Surely, he won’t embarrass himself against the Roy Halladays, Josh Johnsons, Tim Hudsons, Zack Greinkes, and Chris Carpenters of the world — but can he beat them? I’m not so sure, but I guess someone has to try.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Do you like it? Do you agree with the timing? Do you think it will be a negative or a positive?


Reyes Pulls a Pujols

According to Adam Rubin on ESPN-NY, Jose Reyes is not interested in negotiating a contract extension after Opening Day. Said Reyes:

“I don’t want to talk about any contract during the season because I want to be focused on doing my thing and help this team to win a lot of ballgames”

And, perhaps in response to new GM Sandy Alderson’s edict that the Mets would wait to “see how he plays” when asked if the team would extend Reyes …

My family is here. They’re comfortable. I’ve got my daughter here going to school. I don’t want to be somewhere else. But, at the same time, I understand this is a business and everybody never knows what’s going to happen. I just want to perform on the field and see what happens after.

It’s too easy — and not fair — to parallel these quotes by Reyes with the recent demands / deadline set forth by Albert Pujols. Though it’s being spun similarly, there is no indication that Reyes is insisting on an extension right now. Would he like one? Of course — he’s clearly happy to be a Met and in New York. I don’t think these quotes are in any way intended to spark the front office to begin negotiating. Rather, Reyes is simply stating what any ballplayer SHOULD state: that he wants to focus on his job and performance on the field once the games begin.

And truly, what would it matter if Reyes’ intention was to establish an ultimatum? The writing is on the wall — Jose Reyes most likely will be in another uniform in 2012 (possibly at some point in 2011). If Reyes has another injury-filled year, or if he has only a so-so year, the Mets probably will let him walk. If he has a spectacular season, Alderson probably won’t offer the long-term deal he’s likely to attract on the open market. The only way I can see him returning to Flushing in 2012 is if he has a horrid season, or misses 100+ games, in which case he’ll need to sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract to rebuild his value.

What I find interesting is that many fans have this notion that the Mets will get a great package of young MLBers and top prospects if Reyes starts out strong and is traded near the deadline. But why would a team give up a big package for a three-month rental? And if such team was in the playoff hunt, they’d be very unlikely to give up anyone on the 25-man roster, and might not be willing to part with near-ready talent, either. I suppose there are a number of things that can happen between now and July, but I’m just not seeing the Mets getting a spectacular return for Reyes in a deadline deal. Maybe if a contending team loses their starting shortstop to injury, and they feel Reyes can both fill in and put them over the top — then maybe they’d give up the farm. Who knows, maybe someone like the Reds would pull the trigger on a deal, or the Brewers; both of those teams seem destined to make a good run yet might be one player short of a championship season.

The way things look, my plan is to savor every at-bat Jose Reyes takes as a Met in 2011, since his days appear numbered. On the flip side, we may be engaging in interesting conversation about him five months from now.


26 DUPACR: Dave Kingman

There were a few other players to choose from, but it had to be Kong. It had to be.

A few that I considered for various reasons included Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell (for the nickname, of course), Rico Brogna (for his given name, of course), Bruce Boisclair (for posing with an aluminum bat for his 1979 Topps card), Orlando Hernandez (for his many arm angles), and, especially, Terry Leach — who if it were not for Kingman, would have been my choice to represent #26. Because, how can one not like Terry Leach? He was the ultimate blue-collar underdog, a tremendous teammate, and by all accounts, is an interesting and fantastic human being.

But as much as I wish Terry Leach could have pitched forever, Dave Kingman is the guy.